The defense secretary has announced plans to step down after his bid to lead NATO was reportedly rejected by the US
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is leaving government at the next cabinet reshuffle in the fall and will not stand for reelection in Parliament, he told the UK Times on Saturday. After his failed bid to lead NATO, he said he is eager to leave politics entirely.
Wallace stressed that he had no plans to leave the cabinet “prematurely” and force a special election, insisting he was not standing down because of a predicted Conservative defeat but because his constituency was being dissolved. However, he implied he had had enough of the job in remarks to the Times, emphasizing his 24-year political career and explaining “I’ve spent well over seven years with three phones by my bed.”
The minister predicted a “much more unsafe, more insecure” world by the end of the decade, with the UK ending up in “a cold or a warm conflict” and Russia, China and “terrorist groups that have still not gone away” menacing from all sides.
Wallace spent four years as defense secretary, serving under three prime ministers and defining the UK’s leading role arming Ukraine in the conflict with Russia. Former PM Boris Johnson, with whom Wallace was closely allied, reportedly intervened during a state visit to Ukraine last year to stop President Vladimir Zelensky from talking peace with Moscow.
Despite his full-throated backing of Ukraine, Wallace came under fire last week when he pointed out that support for the conflict was waning among its western allies and that a show of “gratitude” instead of itemized lists of weapons demands might help soften lawmakers’ hearts. After his comments met with snark from Zelensky, who volunteered to “wake up every morning and personally thank the minister,” Wallace was forced to issue a clarification that the comments described other countries’ sentiments, not his own, and that the UK was committed to “helping Ukraine procure what they need to triumph.”
Wallace officially abandoned his bid to replace Jens Stoltenberg as Secretary General of NATO last month after Stoltenberg’s term was extended, explaining that the alliance’s next leader would “have to please both [French President Emmanuel] Macron and [US President Joe] Biden,” neither of whom had supported his candidacy. Biden reportedly blocked his bid because Wallace went behind Washington’s back to promote training Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in order to force the US to supply them.
The defense minister joins more than 40 other Conservative MPs who have announced they will not seek reelection, leading some to predict an upcoming election defeat for the party that has burned through four prime ministers in as many years.
#UKs #Wallace #confirms #departure #politics #World #News